He first analyzes the latest Iranian missile test, pointing out that the new Sajjil-2 missile uses solid-fuel, making it more accurate and reliable and “killing any chance of an advanced warning or neutralization actions prior to a launch” since it doesn’t have to be loaded like a liquid fuel-based missile does.
Furthermore, the missile has two-stages. To put that in perspective, our advanced Minuteman III ICBMs are three stages. That means they are one stage away from having an ICBM.
Noonan also warns that Iran’s infrastructure goes far beyond what’s necessary for developing a few nuclear weapons. He concludes the Iranians want to build an arsenal, including hydrogen bombs. Below is a long excerpt from his analysis:
Iran’s nuclear program is spread throughout a variety of experimental laboratories, hardened enrichment facilities, heavy water manufacturing plants, and two plutonium reactors currently under development (Bushehr could come online within a few months). That far exceeds what’s needed to turn on the lights, but it’s also beyond what’s needed for a basic nuclear weapons program.
Consider North Korea, which manufactured two limited yield nuclear weapons using only a plutonium reactor, a plutonium reprocessing facility, and — presumably — some sort of weapons laboratory. Why is Iran pumping billions more into building and protecting triple the number of facilities required to build a basic nuclear weapon, akin to the Fat Man or Little Boy bombs detonated in 1945?
The answer could be that Tehran is skipping basic weapons construction and moving towards an advanced thermonuclear design.
Consider that they’ve already experimented with advanced weapons designs like two-point implosion, nuclear triggers, and have built their own facility at Arak that could be used to produce both tritium, which is a suspected boosting agent in hydrogen bomb designs, as well as weapons-grade plutonium.
They’ve spent billions building, hardening, and protecting uranium enrichment, which could be used along with plutonium in a staged nuclear device. All this at an astronomical cost and effort compared to the similar North Korean nuclear program.